Staff, administration and parents are debating the possible expansion of the current block schedule to cover four days, from Tuesday to Friday, instead of two at both the school and district level. Although the possibility has been discussed for at least four years, teachers and administrators are uncertain about when changes will be made.
Students surveyed by the school’s Stress and Wellness Committee two years ago said they would learn more material and be less stressed with a changed block schedule because they would have more time in a class period as well as outside of school to grasp concepts.
“A lot of people on both campuses are realizing that this bell schedule we’ve had for close to 20 years could be improved,” English teacher Margaret Bennett said. “A lot of us feel that if you look around campus, there’s a frantic feeling.”
History teacher Mike Messner said he believes a change in the block schedule will give students more learning opportunities because they can finish entire lessons in one sitting without having to revisit them.
While junior Adrienne Mitchel agrees with Messner, she also sees the negatives of having 90-minute periods four days a week.
“With block days you get less homework, and you also have more time to focus on a specific topic,” Adrienne said. “But block days can get very long and boring, and I don’t know how well people will be able to concentrate.”
Other teachers and students share concerns that teachers are not prepared to teach such long class periods and that students will struggle without daily practice of course material.
“Teachers need to be supported,” Assistant Principal Suzanne Woolfolk said. “With regards to it being boring, I think students will very quickly see the benefits of actually having time to discuss the homework or move between two lessons. By practice, I am a language teacher and I’ve seen gains by offering more in-depth [lessons] and not losses when it’s three days a week versus four.”
Mountain View High School has made a transition to include a tutorial period this year which makes it impossible for them to also prepare for another big change regarding the school day schedule.
“We keep getting stopped at the district level,” Woolfolk said. “The board would like both schools, the large schools, to do things the same. So Mountain View would have to try at the same time and they are not ready.”